That man, not surprisingly, turned out to be Davon House. Despite his superb training camp and preseason, House didn’t play a single defensive snap against the Seahawks.
“I handled it good,” an upbeat House said while walking out of the Packers’ locker room on Monday. “I know it’s part of the business. Everyone wants to be the guy. I figured it’d be either me or Casey (Hayward on the bench). The ball pointed to me. I’ve just got to do my job and keep my head up high and know that God has a plan.”
Barring an injury or a major personnel shakeup, it’s hard to see the outlook changing dramatically for House any time soon. The Packers have gone with Tramon Williams and Sam Shields as their No. 1 cornerback tandem since the first day of offseason practices. Their play has given the coaches no reason to demote them from the starting lineup. Hayward, an all-rookie defender in 2012 with six interceptions, is healthy and back at the nickel spot. In dime, versatile Micah Hyde moves down from safety, which provides more snaps to break in first-round safety HaHa Clinton-Dix.
House started five games last season — including Weeks 11 through 13. In Weeks 14 through 17, however, House played a total of five snaps on defense. The playing time changed in a hurry in the playoff loss to San Francisco, with Shields exiting in the first series and House playing 61 of 64 snaps.
“I think you’ll see Davon play a lot of football for us. You just will,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said on Monday. “Some games it works that way, some games it doesn’t. But we’ve got a lot of confidence in Davon, we like what he’s done in the preseason, so you’ll see Davon play a lot of football for us.”
There was plenty to like about House’s preseason. After stepping up his offseason training — including working out alongside elite cornerback Darrelle Revis for three-and-a-half weeks between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp — House turned in a brilliant summer. According to ProFootballFocus.com, House broke up almost as many passes (five) as he allowed completions (six) in four preseason games.
Being stuck on the bench couldn’t come at worse timing for House. He’ll be a free agent after this season. Certainly, plenty could change between now and the start of free agency, but his resume is incredibly short, with regular-season career totals of 10 starts, 790 defensive snaps and just one interception.
That might be bad news for House, with his limited body of work potentially not being enough to lure any long-term, big-bucks contracts. It might be good news for the Packers, though, who know House’s talent and potential far more than any other team around the league. Regardless of how much (or how little) he plays this season, the Packers no doubt would like to keep him, considering Williams and Jarrett Bush are playing their final seasons under contract, as well.
It wouldn’t be a shocker if House was awarded an in-season contract extension, not unlike what Ted Thompson did with Jordy Nelson in 2010. In his first three seasons, Nelson had merely 100 receptions and six touchdowns. The Packers wound up getting Nelson for relative peanuts, considering his production the past three seasons. Maybe the same will be true for House, with a starting position potentially available in 2015.
“I always think about that,” House said of his free-agent outlook. “Like I said, my big thing is faith. I’m a Christian so when things get tough and I start thinking about that, I’ve just got to have faith in God’s plan. I was always told you’ve got to learn how to follow before you lead, so I need to learn how to follow Tramon, J.B. (Bush) and the starters before I get out there. Whenever God says it’s time for me to go out there, I’ll be out there.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.